Every now and then it pays to take stock and do an emotional inventory, so to speak. And one of those points of curiosity over the years has been where the idea for this column’s name really started.
And the answer is that it started here. Not at my computer keyboard and screen, but here where I am scribbling these notes while talking with my old friend Joel Baruch, the present proprietor of the new Gotta Getta Bagel emporium on Broadway in Woodmere.
Joel and his dad had a few iterations of the classic bagel shop, but now at his new and improved shop it looks like we are witnessing a redefinition of what a New York bagel shop is really like. The new GGAB is a comfortable, roomy, and even stylish restaurant where you will enjoy sitting with friends, meeting, and dining, whether it is for breakfast, lunch, or a mid-morning or an afternoon snack.
More important for us is the work behind the scenes these days rather than the attractive dishes on display behind the glass showcases. So there are two issues that we will address today in this essay. The first is how GGAB gets it all done, catering and providing food service throughout the Five Towns, and then for those who are new to this or just do not recall, we’ll share why this column became known as Heard In The Bagel Store.
Have you ever wondered about the effort that goes into making certain that all that fresh food is ready to go and prepared for your nutritious consumption by 6:00 a.m. each morning? Well, you may not have given these ideas too much thought, but the fact of the matter is that it all starts in the middle of the night, every night of the week—except for Friday night, of course.
Joel is dedicated and committed to his business and understands well the dynamic involved in providing our community with our food, and that is especially true at a simcha like a b’ris or other functions at which he is the go-to guy for delectable food and food service.
Still, it is difficult to imagine what it is like day after day to get out of bed at 3:00 a.m. to open a store, make bagels, mash tuna and eggs, bake and fry fish, and oversee the construction, if you will, of an endless amount of salad.
So instead of relying on hearing what it’s like from Joel, I rolled out of bed at 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday and went to join him in opening the store, turning on the lights and the ovens at 4:00 a.m.
First a few things about that experience. Except for one person jogging down Central Avenue, the streets were absolutely deserted as I drove to GGAB on Broadway in Woodmere. The behind-the-scenes inner workings of almost any operation are fascinating because we do not really stop to consider what it takes to make possible the many things we ordinarily take for granted.
And one of those things is our coffee, bagels, muffins, and other foodstuffs that are a staple in so many of our population’s daily diet, or lack thereof. I’m in the pareve kitchen of the store with Joel and a couple of his employees. The dough for the not-yet-cooked or baked bagels is perfectly round and Joel takes me into a corner to show me the machinery that achieves this perfect roundness.
Prior to placing the dough rounds in a specifically designed bagel oven, one of the young men takes a segment of the raw bagels and dips some in a vat of poppy seeds and others in a container of sesame seeds.
While I was there, Joel realized that he had run out of chocolate chips and called one of the proprietors of another local bagel shop to see if he could borrow a box of that important staple featured in so many breakfast muffins. Joel says that the volume of business in the newly constructed restaurant is greater than he could have imagined and, he adds, he is still adjusting to ordering the amounts of ingredients the increased demand requires.
I drove him over to the other store, but before we left, the same proprietor called Joel to see if he could borrow some milk, as his store was running low. It was an interesting display of professional courtesy, albeit under the cover of early-morning darkness.
Aside from the b’rissim and a host of other events, Joel is busy on the phone booking catering for Chanukah parties. He has even rented out the store for several evenings for Chanukah events, office parties, and other occasions. It’s a perfect venue for those kinds of celebrations and, in fact, is an impressive and comfortable venue at any time of year.
As you can see, bagels play an essential role (not roll) in Jewish life. And that is exactly where the name for this column comes from. Whatever the project or the occasion is—a life-cycle event, a meeting, a conference, or whatever—someone in the mix will inevitably utter the words, “I’ll pick up the bagels.” We’ve all heard it at one time or another. There is an array of things that go on in Jewish life on a daily basis and most of those things would not take place unless someone first gets the bagels.
Concert Of A Generation
It has been going on for 24 years, but this year’s Thanksgiving Cantorial Event at the Hampton Synagogue may be the one to top them all. Chazzanut, or chazannus, as it is known in some circles, is about prayers and tefillos that through exemplary liturgical compositions have a way of penetrating the heart.
On Saturday night, November 24, the Hampton Synagogue will feature a most outstanding cantorial lineup than perhaps was presented any time in the history of the musical art.
The evening is also a tribute to Haim Wiener, the man who has kept chazzanus alive over the decades and who committed millions of dollars to not just preserve the rich history of chazzanus but to also train a new generation of cantorial talent that is advancing the field in creative directions.
In addition to the Hampton Synagogue’s amazing talented Chazzan Netanel Hershtik, other featured chazzanim this Saturday night will include Yitzchak Meir Helfgott, Yaakov Stark, Benzion Miller, Avi Albrecht, Yaakov Motzen, Jeffrey Nadel, Aaron Bensoussan, Benjamin Warschawski, and Jack Mendelson.
Rabbi Marc Schneier, the founding rabbi of the shul, is particularly animated when he speaks about this weekend’s event. The rabbi says that it is indeed a historical event that pays tribute to a man with great drive and vision and to the art form which may have been diminished or even lost if not for these extraordinary efforts.
The news is that chazzanus is alive and well and flourishing, with remarkable talent on display on Saturday night. Admission is complimentary so arrive early.
A Great Dinner Event
On Sunday night, December 2, New York will play host to the 36th annual dinner of the American Friends of Bet-El, a high point and priority on the calendar for those who care about and support a strong and vibrant Israel.
The prime moving force behind the yearly success of this event is philanthropist Eugen Gluck who, over the decades, has managed to maneuver this great night as one of the most important events that is routinely attended by more than 1,200 guests. This year’s dinner will feature as guest speaker Member of Knesset Yuli Edelstein, a man who withstood the horrors of the Soviet gulag and then helped millions of immigrants enjoy the dream of a life in Israel.
This year’s dinner will take place on the first night of Chanukah at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square and will pay tribute to Debbie and Thomas Herman, Razie and Daniel Benedict, and Chana Leah and Yair Matan.
The dinner generates vital funding for the growth and development of the Bet El community and, more specifically, their flourishing yeshiva center.
Meet Sara Rose
There is now a great-tasting cinnamon-swirl cake available in Costco that is OU kosher-certified and pareve—and the cake is named after my mom, Sora Roza, of blessed memory. And actually it is more of a long story than it is a coincidence. The important matter, though, is that you have to taste this cake to believe it. There may have never been a cinnamon cake quite like this.
That’s the short part of the story. The less abbreviated version is that, baruch Hashem, my wife and I now have two grandchildren named for my mother. One of those little girls was produced by Shayna and Nison Gordon who reside here in the Five Towns. Their five-month-old daughter, Sora Roza (or Sara Rose), doesn’t know anything about cake yet; in fact, she doesn’t even know that there is such a thing as solid food yet. Luckily, she cannot read yet either.
Anyway, Shayna’s parents, Orly and Jeff Stern of Miami Beach, have been in the cake business for more than two decades, creating some of the most scrumptious culinary creations on the market. So Costco, after an exhaustive search, hunted them down and convinced them to create a cake exclusively for them. The issue up for discussion was what to call the new product.
Over this last summer, after Orly and Jeff’s first grandchild was born—Sora Roza—the vision crystallized on the matter of the new cake product. And Costco was sold on the name as well: Sara Rose. So now all you have to do on your next trip to Costco is pick up a Sara Rose cake to see and taste exactly what we are talking about here. My mechutanim, my son and daughter-in-law, my granddaughter, and my mom thank you in advance. Enjoy!
Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.